Kovalev sets up Hopkins bout
Sergey Kovalev retained his WBO light-heavyweight title, and booked a fight against Bernard Hopkins in the process, by stopping Blake Caparello in the second round in Atlantic City.
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The Russian, who is now based in Fort Lauderdale, twice knocked down his opponent before the referee stepped in to spare challenger Caparello from taking any further punishment.
The victory, one that improves Kovalev's record as a professional to 25-0-1, paves the way for him to face IBF and WBA light-heavyweight champion Hopkins in a unification bout, likely in November.
"I'm very happy," Kovalev, who put an end to Nathan Cleverly's perfect record by stopping the Welshman in Cardiff last year, said afterwards.
"Fighting Bernard Hopkins is a big fight and interesting fight for me and for the boxing world. I'm not scared to fight him. He's called 'The Alien,' but I'm a 'Krusher' and I'll send him to Mars."
The 31-year-old didn't quite have it all his own way, however.
Caparello stunned both his opponent and the crowd inside the Revel Resort when he landed a straight left that forced Kovalev to touch down with a glove as he stumbled backwards.
However, the champion recovered from the initial setback to bring about an early finish to proceedings, putting the Victorian southpaw down with a pair of right hands before the official waved the fight off.